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Marine Life & Conservation

PADI to play major role at CITES 2022 this week

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PADI®, with its global charitable foundation PADI AWARE™, is continuing to drive positive ocean change by mobilising the dive community to save sharks. The value of sharks and rays to the global economy is likely to be a significant factor when governments decide whether to impose trade restrictions on dozens of threatened shark species at the 2022 Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna (CITES) meeting in Panama over the coming days.

PADI has been asked by the home nation of Panama to provide specialist advice to all attending government representatives to help secure support for a critical vote to double the amount of protected shark and ray species.

PADI CEO + President and PADI AWARE FoundationTM Chairman of the Board, Drew Richardson sent letters of support to governments that have already backed the proposal to protect all species of requiem sharks from unsustainable trade, including the President of Panama, the proposal’s lead country. With the organisation having already established itself as the most successful diving organisation to mobilise divers in protecting sharks, PADI and PADI AWARE Foundation will be representing the diving community at CITES, ensuring divers’ concerns, as well as value to many economies, are taken into account by decision-makers.

Most recently, collaborative efforts resulted in a successful campaign for the highly-applauded immediate two-year ban on catching and retaining Atlantic shortfin mako sharks at the last meeting of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT).

“The invitation to advise governments from the host nation of Panama at CITES as a result of PADI’s letter of support has highlighted just how impactful taking direct action for the ocean can be when it comes to pushing the needle for creating positive ocean change,” says Ian Campbell, PADI AWARE Foundation, Associate Director of Policy and Campaigns.

Saving sharks, which are keystone species and apex predators, is an integral part of PADI’s Blueprint for Ocean Action, with the established goal of reducing the number of sharks and rays facing extinction by 25% in the next decade. To date, PADI has already helped secure protection measures for 51 species of sharks and rays, with the goal of protecting 54 more in the next three years.

“Sharks are critical to our world’s largest and most important ecosystem, keeping our oceans in healthy balance for more than 450 million years,” continues Campbell. “Over a third of all species of sharks and rays are facing extinction in our lifetime. PADI is taking action by representing our passionate community of Ocean Torchbearers at international arenas like CITES where real-life decisions are made.”

CITES is a United Nations agreement that is binding in 184 countries and limits the international trade of identified animals at risk, including sharks. There are currently 46 marine species and 23 freshwater species protected under CITES. This year, the governments in attendance are voting on the protection of over 50 species of sharks—from grey reef sharks to lemon sharks. Two-thirds of the government delegates at CITES need to vote “YES” for these species to be placed on the CITES protectee list, which will put restrictions on international trade for fins, meat, and any other shark products.

“This CITES meeting is turning out to be one of the most important for sharks ever. The proposals put forward include most of the species that make up the shark fin trade, and that attract tourists to dive sites all over the world” explains Campbell. “CITES only comes around once every three years, so we must grab this opportunity before these sharks disappear from our favourite spots forever.”

To ensure that sharks get the “YES” vote for protection, PADI is encouraging their global community of 128,000 PADI Professionals, 6,600 PADI Dive Centers and Resorts, and the over 29 million certified PADI Divers to help take part and urge their own local governments to take action at CITES.

PADI is asking all torchbearers (whether a diver or not) who are passionately committed to our shared blue planet and creating positive ocean change to sign the petition that urges governments to vote “YES”.

PADI is also asking all PADI Members to sign the PADI Dive Center Business Support Letter for Shark Protection, which will be formally sent to all government delegates in attendance at CITES.

To help build a swell of support for delegates voting “YES” to protect sharks, PADI is also calling on everyone to share the shark signer petition using hashtags #CITES4Sharks and #Divers4Sharks, social tags @PADIAWARE and @PADITV, and government tags @s_guilbeault, @BarbaraCreecy_, and @tanya_plibersek.

To learn more about how to take action to help sharks get the global protection they need and deserve, visit ​​www.padi.com/aware/cites.

Photos: Neil Andrea and @juliesharkangel

Marine Life & Conservation

The Big Shark Pledge: Shark Trust’s new campaign kicks off with a call for support

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With the ink still drying on last week’s landmark listing of nearly 100 species of sharks on Appendix II of CITES, the Shark Trust insists that this is not the time for shark conservation to take a break. The UK-based NGO this week launches its biggest-ever concerted campaign to tackle the overfishing of oceanic sharks. They are calling on people across the world to join the call for stricter controls on high seas fisheries.

The Big Shark Pledge is at the heart of an ambitious set of campaign actions. Working to secure science-based catch limits on all sharks and rays affected by the international high seas fishing fleet. The pledge will build the largest campaigning community in shark and ray conservation history to support a raft of policy actions over the vital years ahead.

Many of our best known and much-loved sharks make their home on the high seas. In our shared ocean, these oceanic sharks and rays face a very real threat from a huge international fleet of industrial-scale fishing vessels. Research published in early 2021 confirmed that over three-quarters of oceanic sharks and rays are now at risk of extinction due to the destructive impact of overfishing. They have declined by 71% over the last 50 years.

The Shark Trust is celebrating its 25th Anniversary this year and has a long history of securing positive changes for sharks, skates and rays. The Big Shark Pledge will build on the success of their NoLimits? campaign which underpinned landmark catch limits on Blue Sharks and Shortfin Mako in the North Atlantic.

While the listing of so many species on the CITES trade agreement is certainly a positive step, there remains a huge challenge in ensuring that sustainable practices are embedded in international fisheries.” says Shark Trust Director of conservation, Ali Hood. “Sharks on the high seas face extraordinary pressure from excessive fishing practices. This has to be addressed through international agreements such as those secured for Blues and makos.”

There is hope and a feeling of momentum in the shark conservation community. Just last week, in addition to the new CITES listings, the Shark Trust, working with partners in the Shark League, secured the first-ever international quota for South Atlantic Mako at ICCAT meeting in Portugal. The new campaign from the Shark Trust aims to push forwards from here, engaging a wave of support through the Big Shark Pledge to bolster policy action.

This will be a long-term international and collaborative effort. Forging a pathway to rebuild populations of high-seas sharks and rays. By putting science at the heart of shark conservation and fisheries management. And making the vital changes needed to set populations on the road to recovery.

Shark Trust CEO Paul Cox says of the Big Shark Pledge “It’s designed to give everyone who cares about the future of sharks the chance to add their voice to effective and proven conservation action. By adding their name to the Pledge, supporters will be given opportunities to apply pressure at key moments to influence change.

Click here to sign the Big Shark Pledge

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Gear News

Fourth Element X Sea Shepherd

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This year on Black Friday, fourth element announced their new partnership with Sea Shepherd, encouraging people to move away from mindless purchasing and to opt-in to supporting something powerful.

For 40 years Sea Shepherd, a leading non-profit organisation, has been patrolling the high seas with the sole mission to protect and conserve the world’s oceans and marine wildlife. They work to defend all marine wildlife, from whales and dolphins, to sharks and rays, to fish and krill, without exception.

Inspired by Sea Shepherd’s mission, fourth element have created a collection of fourth element X Sea Shepherd limited edition products for ocean lovers and protectors, with 15% of every sale going to the Sea Shepherd fund to help continue to drive conservation efforts globally.

“Working with Sea Shepherd gives fourth element the opportunity to join forces with one of the largest active conservation organisations in the world to try to catalyse change in people’s attitudes and behaviour. Fourth Element’s products are designed, developed and packaged with the intention of minimising our impact on the ocean environment, and with this partnership, we will be supporting the work of Sea Shepherd, in particular in their work on dealing with the twin threats of Ghost fishing nets and plastic pollution.”

Jim Standing fourth element co-founder

Read fourth element’s Sea Shepherd Opinion Piece HERE

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